Analysis: Significance of full capacity announcement for Penn State football

Story posted June 1, 2021 in News, Sports, CommRadio by Andrew Destin

Penn State football aficionados’ wait for more good news was short-lived.

Just two days after Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced businesses, events and venues within the commonwealth would return to 100% capacity, Penn State Athletics announced such would be the case at Beaver Stadium and other on campus facilities for the 2021-22 academic year.

Unlike the Nittany Lions’ SEC counterparts, the Big Ten did not allow fans outside of family and friends to attend football games in 2020. Of course, the blue and white’s fall season was easily the least successful campaign of head coach James Franklin’s seven-year tenure at University Park.

Penn State got out to an 0-5 start and finished the year 4-5 while going just 2-3 in front of its significantly reduced number of home fans. Certainly, having players like running back Journey Brown sit out due to medical retirement and linebacker Micah Parsons choose to focus on his draft preparation depleted the Nittany Lions’ roster, but there is no question the fans were missed at University Park.

During Franklin’s time at the helm, he has led the blue and white to a 37-10 record at home, including three 7-0 seasons. With the Nittany Lion faithful’s support and assistance, Penn State has pulled out come-from-behind and upset wins, a list that includes but is not limited to the 2016 Ohio State win and a nail-biting overtime triumph over Minnesota just weeks earlier.

Now, the annual "Whiteout game,” “Zombie Nation” blaring over the loudspeakers and a raucous student section seem as though they are inching toward their respective returns inside Beaver Stadium for the first time since November 30, 2019.

Season ticket holders will receive an email Tuesday, June 8 notifying them that their 2021 Penn State football tickets will be available for purchase, and individuals like Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour are gearing up for these fans’ arrivals in just over three months.

“Our fans are a true home field advantage for all of our teams and the 2020-21 season was not the same without them in our venues,” Barbour said in a statement released by the university.

Meanwhile, details for purchasing single-game and student football tickets will be made available in the coming weeks. Regardless of when fans aside from season ticket holders can get their hands on entrance passes to Beaver Stadium, the festivities of fall Saturdays in Central Pennsylvania are all but upon us, much to the delight of all associated with Penn State’s football program.

Tailgating in the stadium’s adjacent grass fields have been approved by the university, yet paper ticket stubs will no longer be accepted for gaining entrance: tickets for football and all other sporting events have transitioned to being entirely mobile and contactless.

Yet despite these changes, which may seem miniscule in comparison to what steps the world has undertaken over the last 15 months in the struggle to return to normalcy, the sights and sounds once so commonly associated with Penn State football are seemingly confirmed to comeback.

Whether the return to a semblance of normalcy at University Park will translate to more Penn State victories remains to be seen; after all, this is a Nittany Lion squad fresh off its first sub-.500 season since 2004.

Regardless of what the on-field product materializes into, those who follow the blue and white and are so eager to return inside Beaver Stadium for spectating purposes should take note of Michael Jordan’s brief but powerful announcement when returning to the NBA following his retirement from basketball.

Except, perhaps one word should be adjusted so the statement reads as follows:
We’re back.

Andrew Destin is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. You can contact him at ajd6360@psu.edu